If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ve likely heard about the epic forbidden forest experience that debuted to rave reviews in Cheshire, United Kingdom in the summer of 2021. Now the immersive outdoor attraction has made its way to our area and opens in Westchester today!
We got a sneak peek at the massive outdoor experience two days before its official opening and it’s just as magical as it looks. The “Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience” is set in Yorktown’s Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, about 40 miles north of New York City. Fans can walk along a lit trail as they take in sights and sounds inspired by the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series.
The theatrically-designed trail, created by Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment along with partners Fever, Thinkwell and Unify, feels like you’re walking through a movie set. The trail begins with a statue of Harry Potter’s stag Patronus at the entrance, where you’ll find a village filled with food and drink and Potter merch. Midway through the experience, we stopped for dinner, trying the steak and ale pie and sausage rolls, Aragog’s Lair Cupcake and Deathly Hallows Sugar Cookies for dessert and washed it all down with Butterbeer!
Between the spectacular lighting illuminating the forest and the beloved music from the films, walking through the Forbidden Forest was a magical experience. Parts of the trail are extra dark, only lit up with eyes or werewolves, giving it a spooky feel.
It’s the details you’ll see along your walk that make the experience extra special. Among them include a life-sized Hagrid and his dog Fang, an interactive Buckbeak the Hippogriff, Hedwig, Grawp (Hagrid’s half-brother), centaurs, unicorns, Nifflers, Pygmy Puffs and so many more details.
There are also stops where visitors get a chance to participate in magic from the books. Fans can take part in a wand battle, where each special wand sparks bright lightning-like light during a duel. Another stop invites visitors to cast their own Expecto Patronum charm with a swish and a flick that conjures up Harry’s stag Patronus on a big screen. If you’re afraid of spiders, be warned that a section of the forest is filled with them so you may not want to look up.
It took us about 90 minutes to walk the trail at a leisurely pace, which included a stop for dinner, dessert and Butterbeer. The trail is open rain or shine so be sure to dress warm and don your best Harry Potter garb so you can snap plenty of pics in the forest!
Tickets to the Harry Potter experience are on sale now, with many dates already sold out. The experience will run through Jan. 22, 2023, but may be extended due to demand. Ticket prices start from $25 for children and $36 for adults but vary depending on the day and time of the session chosen. Children 4 and younger are free. Parking is $8 per vehicle if you pay in advance. You can purchase tickets and check availability at hpforbiddenforestexperience.com/westchester. The Westchester location is one of just two in the country. The other is in Leesburg, Virginia.